Some children thrive in a structured school environment. Others do better one-on-one with a parent or tutor. Learn more about home schooling and whether it could be right for your child.
Most parents are happy to leave the teaching of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic to a public or private school. But what if parents think they could give their children a better education? Or what if there are health reasons a child may be better off being schooled at home?
While children are required by law to be educated, the lessons don’t have to take place in a traditional school. Parents may teach their children or have tutors come to their homes. This is called home schooling.
The U.S. Department of Education says that about 1.1 million children are home-schooled. Some parents choose home schooling because:
- The majority believe they can give their child a better education.
- The school curriculum runs counter to their religious beliefs.
- Their child is being bullied.
- A child is getting negative peer pressure (e.g., to use drugs).
- A child is bedridden, disabled or unable to manage the bus or a school setting.
- Due to illness, a child missed part or all of a school year.
- They live in a remote area, far from a school.
How do you know if home schooling is a good choice for your child? Knowing your child’s personality and learning style are keys to helping you make that decision.
Home schooling may be a good option if your child:
- Requires one-on-one attention or has a learning disability.
- Takes initiative with tasks and projects.
- Is able to work independently.
- Learns better from trips to museums or through community activities than from books and classroom lessons.
- Learns at a different pace – much faster or slower – than others.
- Wants to concentrate more on one subject, such as music or art.
Home schooling may not be a good option if:
- Your child is shy or quiet and could benefit from being around others.
- Your relationship with your child is not conducive to teaching and learning.
- Your child doesn’t work well independently.
- Your child thrives better with the structure of a school environment.
- Teaching your child is too much responsibility to take on with your other roles.
Another important factor is who will teach your child. Are you qualified or should you find a tutor?
Ask yourself these questions before you commit to this huge undertaking:
- Do you have the educational background to teach?
- Do you have access to resources, such as a gym, art materials or lab?
- Do you have the patience to teach your child?
- Will your school system cooperate with you?
- Are you willing to hire tutors for subjects you are not familiar with?
- Is your family able to live on one income if you leave a job to teach?
With home schooling, there are standards to be met – the same as in any school. Parents can contact their school system or state government for these requirements, which differ from state to state. Many colleges will accept home-schooled students, but may ask for certain tests (such as SATs) and curriculum subjects.
If you do opt for home schooling, keep in mind that getting along with other kids is also an important part of your child’s education. Make sure your child is exposed to group activities like clubs or sports teams. Encourage your child to stay in touch with friends who are his or her age, too.